There seems to be differences of opinion among Christians and church leaders about the subject of church marketing and the idea of “selling Jesus for profit.” One side of the argument is all about any and all fresh new marketing and sales techniques to draw people in and sell the hope, love, and forgiveness we all have through Jesus Christ. The other side of the argument is all about letting the gospel speak for itself without so much focus on profit or numbers.
Of course both sides want to keep it about the main thing – reaching people for Jesus, but both sides are throwing stones (which Jesus would have frowned on). The “profit” side accuses the “truth” side of being irrelevant, or even dead, or some other harsh judgement of ministry effectiveness. The “truth” group accuses the “profit” group of selling Jesus as a product rather than a savior – being driven by fame and fortune driven rather than Jesus.
I’ve listened to both sides and actually gone to their churches to experience the differences in how they both do ministry. It doesn’t take long to notice that both sides have valid claims about each other. There are churches that seem irrelevant and dying, and there are churches who seem more concerned about profit than people. The question I have is whether or not anyone who speaks up is examining their own hearts about the matter and using discernment to guide a productive conversation rather than allowing judgement to become condemnation.
Do we really believe the churches who don’t focus on marketing are ALL irrelevant and complacent? Do we really believe the churches who do focus on marketing are ALL profit driven with no real concern for souls? Of course not – both of those are extreme. But are we making broad statements that throw everyone on either side into the same bucket of badness? Absolutely.
I personally believe the public back and forth about church marketing is ridiculous. Churches need to make a profit so that there are more financial resources to do more ministry, and it is not wrong for church leaders (AND STAFF) to be blessed financially. Churches need to keep the heart of the ministry about the gospel and teaching truth even when it doesn’t sell books or tickets to the next popularity contest. The good news is there is a way everyone can help each other do both profit and truth better. Start by stopping the fighting.
If we truly are concerned that a particular church or leader is failing in any way shouldn’t we reach out to help them, encourage them, or challenge them? Shouldn’t we be able to do that in a loving way? Can’t we do it privately? If we truly are concerned about our own church and how we lead shouldn’t we be willing to reach out for others help and constructive feedback? Shouldn’t we be willing to listen? Can we swallow our pride?
Stop and challenge your self the next time you hear a debate, or think an argumentative thought of your own, about whether or not a church’s marketing is motivated by profit or truth. Is the heart behind your thoughts motivated by selfish desire to somehow be right or recognized, or do you truly just want to further God’s kingdom by strengthening His church.